After throwing off the yoke of protective face masks, people are embracing a new type of mask: overnight face masks.
Over the past two years, a bevy of masks designed for overnight use has entered the market, carving out a new sub-category within skin care. Skin-care brands like Fresh, Versed, Farmacy, Kiehl’s, Bubble and Noble Panacea have debuted their own versions. These masks claim to have various benefits, from hydration to chemical exfoliation, to calming and anti-aging. With consumers increasingly looking for products that work quickly and skin care sales growing by 12% in the fourth quarter of 2022, masks that sit on the face for hours while a person sleeps are well poised to seize on trending shopping behaviors.
Fresh was one of the first brands to dabble in overnight masks when it launched its best-selling Black Tea Firming Overnight Mask in 2015. It followed it up with the Rose Deep Hydration Sleeping Mask in 2019, the Crème Ancienne White Truffle Overnight Mask in 2021 and the Floral Recovery Calming Mask in 2022. Jacqueline Jackson, vp of product development for Fresh, declined to share the upcoming product launch strategy but said Fresh is primarily focused on growing the sales of its current product lineup.
“When fresh launched Black Tea Overnight, it was not a trend yet. In the last five years, we’ve seen an influx of sleeping masks linked to hydration,” she said. “Especially in North America, the market is driven by skin concerns.”
To promote the latest mask launch, the Floral Recovery Mask in 2022, Fresh hosted a podcast series with episodes timed to the length of a mask treatment. And on social media, it focused promotion on before-and-after photos showing how the product calms skin of irritation and redness. Fresh declined to share sales data, but said the Black Tea and Floral Recovery masks are its overall best-sellers.
“There is an education element behind it. You [need to] explain to the consumer why they should choose an overnight mask versus a moisturizer, and on what occasions they should use [either product],” said Jackson. “At Fresh, we take the approach that you should listen to your skin.”
As a newer sub-category, brands can define an overnight mask differently. Still, generally, they are seen as offering more concentrated active ingredients than a traditional nighttime moisturizer while texturally having a thicker consistency, too.
Like other niche sub-categories, including body and scalp serums and AHA body care, overnight face masks demonstrate continued innovation within beauty. But the rise of overnight masks, as well as lip masks, hair masks, scalp masks and sheet masks, begs the question of, “Why?” Starting in 2020, face masks became a mainstay of the self-care routine amid lockdown, alongside athleisure and candles. An Aug. 2020 Vogue U.K. story headline asked, “Are at-home face masks vital for peace of mind now?” According to NPD Group data, the prestige mask category accounted for $184.4 million in 2022, a 3% decline from 2021.
But consumer demand for instant results and more targeted treatments has also driven the recent mask innovation, according to Pamela Marcos, vp of product development at Farmacy. In Dec. 2021, Farmacy launched its 10% Niacinamide Night Mask, which has a five-star average rating across 500 reviews. Niacinamide is meant to make pores seem smaller and provide a more even complexion. Another of the mask’s active ingredients, called panthenol, is said to provide more moisture and a stronger skin barrier. At its launch, Farmacy held press and influencer events, did influencer gifting, and hosted influencer appearances at its first pop-up experience in New York City.
“Brands are talking about masks slightly differently than in the past,” said Marcos. “Maybe it’s a daily or a nightly, or a once-a-week treatment. There’s more opportunity to grow in masks, as long as there are benefits. People don’t want to wait four weeks to see results.”